The spirit duplicator—aka the Ditto machine—largely vanished with the spread of Xerox machines in the '70s. But before then it was popular with schools, as a cheap way to print a pop quiz, and even more popular with students, who couldn't resist sniffing the sweetly toxic Ditto fluid absorbed by the paper.
Introduced in 1956, Play-Doh smells like nothing else—except Play-Doh cologne, developed in the last decade by Demeter Fragrance Library in an odd attempt to lure 50something women with one of the most intoxicating scents from their childhood.
Photo courtesy of Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York
You can tell it's Mattel, it's swell—a Shootin' Shell cap pistol that produces noise, smoke and a Wild West odor not unlike that of an old-fashioned kitchen match.
Equally swell were early Barbie dolls, whose straight-out-of-the-box scent has been compared to another '60s childhood essential—Crayola crayons.
Bazooka Joe Comics
Like baseball cards, Bazooka Joe comics picked up traces of the sugar and the unmistakable aroma of classic pink bubble gum.
Photo: Topps Company
That New-Car Smell
The vaunted interior smell of a brand new car has changed in the last half-century—after all, today's rides contain more than 10 times more plastic than those that came out of Detroit back in the '60s. But the memory lingers.
One of the most popular breakfast dishes of the '50s and '60s, this cereal infused hearty oatmeal with the smell and taste of hot maple syrup. Thanks to that and highly quotable ad campaign, an entire generation took to demanding, "I want my Maypo!"
Not as pungent as Play-Doh, but this stretchable, bounceable silicon-based substance has a distinctive odor all its own.
The Lionel locomotive seemed to weigh a ton, and the oily electric odor the engine gave off as it barreled down the track was the smell of pure power.
Photo: Lionel Corporation
The strangely alluring scent you no doubt remember was a toxic blend of Toluene and Xylene, aromatic hydrocarbons that are no longer used in permanent markers.
Nothing like the cedar-and-graphite smell of a No. 2 pencil—ground to a fine point by an old-fashioned sharpener—to put you right back in grade school.
Raking leaves into enormous piles and then burning them was a seasonal routine back in the day, but no longer—and for good reason: Burning leaves emit carbon dioxide, causing air pollution and health risks, Still, just the memory of that smoky smell evokes the sweet melancholy of autumn.
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